“L’Enfant’s initial scheme for the capital city was ambitious to a grand and rather ludicrous degree. The Frenchman looked out at a muddy, forested village with a mere handful of residents and imagined a radial series of wide boulevards lined at some vague future date with neoclassical government buildings. (He was fired the next year, but the graceful skeleton of his plan remained in place.) A little more than 100 years later, Burnham and his colleagues sketched the long east-west axis and its north-south counterpart and the dimensions of the Mall essentially as we know them today. “As the space filled with a record crowd this morning, the vision of those men was not so much vindicated as fully drawn for the first time. It took more than two centuries, but today it became clear exactly what L’Enfant anticipated for the Capitol from the start, and in particular for its almost absurdly roomy public spaces.”
– Christopher Hawthorne blogs about the power of extreme long-term urban planning over on the Los Angeles Times’ Culture Monster.